Source: UNIV OF WISCONSIN submitted to
SILAGE RESEARCH
Sponsoring Institution
State Agricultural Experiment Station
Project Status
TERMINATED
Funding Source
Reporting Frequency
Annual
Accession No.
0186337
Grant No.
(N/A)
Project No.
WIS04410
Proposal No.
(N/A)
Multistate No.
(N/A)
Program Code
(N/A)
Project Start Date
May 1, 1999
Project End Date
Sep 30, 2011
Grant Year
(N/A)
Project Director
Holmes, B. J.
Recipient Organization
UNIV OF WISCONSIN
21 N PARK ST STE 6401
MADISON,WI 53715-1218
Performing Department
BIOLOGICAL SYSTEMS ENGINEERING
Non Technical Summary
There is limited information in the scientific literature on the capacity of slio bags and the losses of feed during storage and handling using silo bags as a storage system. Forage placed into silo bags will be weighed-in and weighed-out to determine bagged silage density and dry matter loss throughout the storage period. Information and samples will be collected by crews located at three research stations in Wisconsin.The purpose of the study is to learn more about the capacity of silo bags and the losses of forage during storage and handling.
Animal Health Component
100%
Research Effort Categories
Basic
(N/A)
Applied
100%
Developmental
(N/A)
Classification

Knowledge Area (KA)Subject of Investigation (SOI)Field of Science (FOS)Percent
40153302020100%
Goals / Objectives
The primary objective is to measure density, feed out rate and dry matter loss from bag silos containing either hay crop or corn silage.
Project Methods
We will attempt to monitor all bag silos made at the three farms (UW-Madison Agricultural Research Stations at West Madison and Arlington and US Dairy Forage Research Center - Prairie du Sac) over the course of one year. Forages could include corn, alfalfa and red clover silages principally. The Arlington and West Madison farms use a Kelly-Ryan 9 ft. diameter bagger, and the Prairie du Sac farm an 8 ft. diameter Ag Bag machine. Any settings used on these machines will be recorded. All three farms are equipped with platform truck scales to accurately measure input to bags, and current practice at all three farms is to weigh and sample all loads of forage ensiled. Samples of the fresh forage will be analyzed for moisture content by oven drying at 60C. A portion of the fresh samples will be composited and analyzed for particle size using the ASAE standard sieving apparatus. A variety of notes on each bag will be recorded such as the surface on which a bag is laid, the dimensions of each bag, when the bag was sealed after filling, the presence of seepage, etc. A picture of each bag will be taken to indicate the quality of the filling job (e.g., lumpy vs. smooth). During storage, the bags will be checked monthly for punctures and bags repaired as needed, recording what was done. At emptying, silage removed from the bags will be monitored by one of two methods. At West Madison, truck scales will be used to weigh silage removed, and samples of the silage will be taken as the trucks are unloaded. For each bag unloading event at West Madison, the unloading time and the length of silage removed will be recorded in addition to the amount removed. At the other farms, feed mixer wagons equipped with scales will be used to weigh silage removed from bags. Weights will be recorded and a daily sample of silage will be collected. Feed out rates will be estimated using marks placed on the outside of bags at 10 ft. intervals. Farm crews will record the dates on which marks are reached. Silage samples will be analyzed for moisture by oven drying at 60C. Densities will be calculated based on bag dimensions, fresh weight ensiled and the moisture content of the fresh samples. Dry matter losses will be calculated based on the weight of dry matter removed from the bag relative to the amount ensiled. Spoiled silage that is not fed will not be weighed and thus considered part of dry matter loss. Variation in dry matter losses across the various bags will be correlated with crop, density, feed out rate, moisture content, bagger, etc. to determine the most significant factors affecting losses. Core samples using a 2 in. diameter corer will be taken on selected bags to determine the accuracy of this method for density measurement.

Progress 05/01/99 to 09/30/11

Outputs
OUTPUTS: Bunker silos in the packing trials initiated in 2009 were cored twice during emptying to obtain density profiles. One trial was to determine if spreading each load thinly affected bunker density. The other trial compared a continuous packing practice with a differential packing practice (reduced packing for the first half of filling, double packing the second half). The densities from these trials were calculated. PARTICIPANTS: Brian J. Holmes, Biological Systems Engineering Dept.; Richard E. Muck, USDA-ARS US Dairy Forage Research Center; UW Extension - Team Forage TARGET AUDIENCES: Producers harvesting and storing silage in bunker and pile silos. Custom harvesters offering services of filling bunker and pile silos. Nutritionists and other service providers advising producers storing forage as silage. PROJECT MODIFICATIONS: Nothing significant to report during this reporting period.

Impacts
When packing time per ton was kept constant, how thinly each load was spread in the silo had a more limited effect on packing density than expected. Preliminary results show frequency of packing (1, 2, 3, 4 passes) appeared to have little effect on overall dry matter density. Extension and scientific publications will be produced in 2011 to summarize these and earlier results.

Publications

  • No publications reported this period


Progress 01/01/09 to 12/31/09

Outputs
OUTPUTS: Two bunker packing trials with corn silage were initiated in 2009. One was similar to a previous trial, investigating the effect of load spreading practices on bunker density. Two silos were filled simultaneously with alternating loads. One bunker was filled with each load spread over half the length of the silo whereas in the other bunker, each load was spread over the full length. To make a potentially greater difference, packing was done every other load in the first bunker whereas every load was packed in the bunker where each load was spread over the full length. In a second trial using two bunker silos, each bunker half across the width was filled with alternating loads. One side was packed consistently for every load whereas on the other side packing time was half that until the bunker was half filled and then double the first side for the top half of filling. PARTICIPANTS: Brian J. Holmes, Biological Systems Engineering Dept.; Richard E. Muck, USDA-ARS US Dairy Forage Research Center; UW Extension - Team Forage TARGET AUDIENCES: Producers harvesting and storing silage in bunker and pile silos. Custom harvesters offering services of filling bunker and pile silos. Nutritionists and other service providers advising producers storing forage as silage. PROJECT MODIFICATIONS: Nothing significant to report during this reporting period.

Impacts
The earlier trial comparing two bunkers filled with loads spread the total length vs. half the length of the silo showed little difference in density, an unexpected result that led to initiating another trial in 2009. In both trials, packing time per ton was kept similar across the two bunkers. In practice, spreading the load over a wider area takes more time and will result in more packing time per ton if the packing procedure remains the same. Once the current trials are complete, the results will be incorporated in articles on the UW Team Forage website.

Publications

  • No publications reported this period


Progress 01/01/08 to 12/31/08

Outputs
OUTPUTS: Chemical analyses were completed in 2008 for an experiment initiated to learn how load spreading practices affect bunker silo density and how plastic film type affects silage quality. Two silos were filled simultaneously with alternating loads. One bunker was filled with each load spread over half the length of the silo whereas in the other bunker, each load was spread over the full length. At the completion of filling the top of each bunker was covered with two types of plastic films, one on the front half and one on the rear of each bunker. Both silos were opened in 2007, and core samples were taken across the face twice during emptying of each bunker to measure the density profile. Also core samples of the top were taken to a depth of 60 cm under each plastic film to determine density and silage quality under each film. Statistical analysis of the results will be completed in early 2009. Results from the bunker and bag research in this project have been disseminated to farmer and farmer consultant audiences at conferences such as the Four-State Dairy Nutrition Conference in June and at various forage council meetings across Wisconsin. This information has also been placed on the UW Team Forage website www.uwex.edu/ces/crops/teamforage/ to reach a wider audience. PARTICIPANTS: Richard E. Muck and Brian J. Holmes Biological Systems Engineering Dept. USDA-ARS US Dairy Forage Research Center UW Extension - Team Forage TARGET AUDIENCES: Producers harvesting and storing silage in bunker and pile silos. Custom harvesters offering services of filling bunker and pile silos. Suppliers of bunker and pile silo plastic covers. Nutritionists and other service providers advising producers storing forage as silage. PROJECT MODIFICATIONS: Nothing significant to report during this reporting period.

Impacts
Results on losses and densities in bag and bunker silos have been incorporated into documents on the UW Team Forage website related to silage management. This site has gotten a reputation for high quality information, and the documents generated from this research are some of the most viewed pages on the site. The bunker silage density calculator is now available in three languages, and is used by farmers and farm consultants within and outside the U.S.

Publications

  • No publications reported this period


Progress 01/01/07 to 12/31/07

Outputs
OUTPUTS: Measurements continued for an experiment initiated in 2006 seeking to learn how load spreading practices affect bunker silo density and how plastic film type affects silage quality. Two silos were filled simultaneously with alternating loads. One bunker was filled with each load spread over half the length of the silo whereas in the other bunker, each load was spread over the full length. At the completion of filling the top of each bunker was covered with two types of plastic films, one on the front half and one on the rear of each bunker. Both silos were opened in 2007, and core samples were taken across the face twice during emptying of each bunker to measure the density profile. Also core samples of the top were taken to a depth of 60 cm under each plastic film to determine density and silage quality under each film. Samples are currently being analyzed. Preliminary findings of the compaction results were orally reported at the 2007 ASABE Annual International Meeting. Full results will be available in 2008. PARTICIPANTS: Richard E. Muck and Brian J. Holmes TARGET AUDIENCES: Producers harvesting and storing silage in bunker and pile silos. Custom harvesters offering services of filling bunker and pile silos. Suppliers of bunker and pile silo plastic covers. Nutritionists and other service providers advising producers storing forage as silage.

Impacts
When complete, this study will provide information to farmers and farm consultants that will help improve bunker and pile silo management.

Publications

  • No publications reported this period


Progress 01/01/06 to 12/31/06

Outputs
An experiment was initiated to determine how load spreading practices affect bunker silo density. Whole plant corn was packed into two small bunker silos (16' x 70' x 12') in September 2006. The bunkers were filled simultaneously with alternating loads. In one bunker, each load was spread over half the length of the bunker prior to packing. In the other, each load was spread over the full length. All loads were weighed; spreading and packing times were recorded. After each load was packed, the elevations of the crop surface at various locations in the bunker were recorded. About one month after filling, the elevation of the top surface was measured again to determine the degree of settling that had occurred during fermentation. When the bunkers are emptied in 2007, density at the face will be measured at least twice. The two bunkers were also covered with two types of plastic films, one on the front half and one on the rear of each bunker. The whole plant corn under the plastic was cored to 2' to establish pre-ensiling characteristics. When each bunker is emptied, the silage under each film will be cored again to measure silage characteristics and determine effectiveness in preventing spoilage.

Impacts
The current research will provide information that will help farmers better manage bunker and pile silos, reducing losses.

Publications

  • Muck, R. E. and B. J. Holmes. 2006. Bag silo densities and losses. Transactions of the ASABE 49(5):1277-1284.
  • Muck, R. E. and B. J. Holmes. 2006. Deciding on a silage storage type. Silage for Dairy Farms: Growing, Harvesting, and Feeding Conference Proceedings. NRAES-181. NRAES, Ithaca, NY.
  • Holmes, B. J. 2006. Density in silage storage. Silage for Dairy Farms: Growing, Harvesting, and Feeding Conference Proceedings. NRAES-181. NRAES, Ithaca, NY.


Progress 01/01/05 to 12/31/05

Outputs
Analysis of the results was completed this year. A summary of results is as follows. Bag silos made at three research farms in 2000 and 2001 were monitored at filling and emptying to determine densities and losses. A total of 47 bags (23 alfalfa, 1 red clover, 23 whole-plant corn) were made, and losses were calculated on 39 of the silos. Dry matter (DM) density ranged from 160 to 270 kg/m3. Dry matter density increased with DM content in hay crop silages on average 2.9 kg/m3-% DM whereas the effect in corn silage varied by bagging machine. Density decreased with increasing particle size at 4.1 kg DM/m3 per mm. The operator and how the bagging machine was set up affected density. A wide range of DM losses was observed, 0 to 40%. Average DM losses were 9.2% invisible plus uncollected losses and 5.4% spoilage losses for a total loss of 14.6%. Six silos had excessive spoilage losses of more than 15% and total losses above 25% due to plastic integrity issues or overly dry silage (>40% DM) being fed out in warm weather. Invisible losses were reduced in high porosity silages (where spoilage losses were exacerbated), greater in warm weather, and affected by emptying procedures. Spoilage losses in bags without plastic integrity issues were greater in dry silages, from emptying silos in warm weather, at lower feed out rates, in bags stored for a long time, and if bags were emptied periodically rather than daily.

Impacts
The results of this study will help farmers more accurately compare bag silos with other silo types and provide them with guidelines that will help them obtain high quality silage from bag silos.Farmers will better know the capacity of their silo bags.

Publications

  • No publications reported this period


Progress 01/01/04 to 12/31/04

Outputs
Bag silos made at three research farms in 2000 and 2001 were monitored at filling and emptying to determine densities and losses. A total of 47 bags (23 alfalfa, 1 red clover, 23 whole-plant corn) were made, and losses were calculated on 39 of the silos. Dry matter (DM) density ranged from 160 to 270 kg/m3. Dry matter density increased with DM content in hay crop silages on average 3.0 kg/m3-% DM whereas the effect in corn silage varied by bagging machine. Density decreased with increasing particle size at 4.1 kg DM/m3 per mm. The operator and how the bagging machine was set up affected density. A wide range of DM losses was observed, 0 to 40%. Average DM losses were 9.2% invisible plus uncollected losses and 5.4% spoilage losses (rejected by feeder)for a total loss of 14.6%. Six silos had excessive spoilage losses of more than 15% and total losses above 25% due to plastic integrity issues or overly dry silage (>40% DM) being fed out in warm weather. Invisible losses were reduced in high porosity silages (where spoilage losses were exacerbated), greater in warm weather, and affected by emptying procedures. Spoilage losses in bags without plastic integrity issues were greater in dry, porous silages, from emptying silos in warm weather, and at lower feed out rates.

Impacts
The results of this study will help farmers more accurately compare bag silos with other silo types and provide them with guidelines that will help them obtain high quality silage from bag silos.Farmers will better know the capacity of their silo bags.

Publications

  • Muck, R.E. and Holmes, B.J. 2004. Bag silo densities and losses. ASAE Paper No. 041141. ASAE, St. Joseph, MI.


Progress 01/01/03 to 12/31/03

Outputs
This project is studying the density and losses in pressed bag silos. In 2003, we finished monitoring the emptying of bags made in 2001 at the three experiment station farms (Arlington, Prairie du Sac, West Madison). The weights of both good and spoiled silage removed from bags were recorded, and periodic samples were being taken for moisture, ash and quality analyses. Most of the analyses were completed in 2003. So far dry matter losses from bags have been highly variable. Dry matter losses from bags made in 2000 were largely between 5 and 15%. However, 6 of 24 bags had greater than 25% loss, due to observed physical damage to the plastic that probably was not promptly repaired. In contrast, more than half the bags contained either no moldy, spoiled silage or minimal amounts at the ends. Moldy silage has occurred largely in crops ensiled too dry (greater than 40% dry matter) and has been more prevalent in bags emptied during warm weather. Losses for bags made in the 2001 harvest season will be calculated in 2004. Overall, it appears that farmers will get the best performance in bag silos by ensiling crops between 30 and 40% dry matter. Then losses can be similar to losses in tower silos. However, good bag management is needed to consistently get low losses.

Impacts
When this project is completed, we anticipate having a good understanding of the factors influencing density and losses in bag silos. These results will be crucial in developing practical guidelines for planning to use and managing bag silos.

Publications

  • Muck, R.E. and Holmes, B.J. 2003. Density and losses in pressed bag silos. In: Quick, G., ed., Proc. International Conference on Crop Harvesting and Processing, ASAE Publ. No. 701P1103e, ASAE, St. Joseph, MI.


Progress 01/01/02 to 12/31/02

Outputs
This project is studying the density and losses in pressed bag silos. In 2002, we continued to monitor the emptying of bags made in 2000 and 2001 at the three experiment station farms (Arlington, Prairie du Sac, West Madison). The weights of both good and spoiled silage removed from bags were recorded, and periodic samples were being taken for moisture, ash and quality analyses. Densities in bags varied by machine, operator, crop, kernel processing, and dry matter content of the crop. Kernel processing reduced density in corn silage. Dry matter densities were higher in drier crops, 0.2 and 0.3 lb/ft3 per percentage unit of DM content for alfalfa and corn silages respectively. So far dry matter losses from bags has been highly variable. Losses in most bags to date have been between 5 and 15%. However, three were greater than 25%, one due to bird damage. More than half the bags have had either no moldy, spoiled silage or minimal amounts at the ends. Moldy silage has occurred largely in crops ensiled too dry (greater than 40% dry matter). When visible mold was not present, higher losses appeared related to lower feedout rates (taking less than 1 foot per day from the face). Overall, it appears that farmers will get the best performance in bag silos by ensiling crops between 30 and 40% dry matter. Then losses can be similar to losses in tower silos. However, good bag management is needed to consistently get low losses.

Impacts
When this project is completed, we anticipate having a good understanding of the factors influencing density and losses in bag silos. These results will be crucial in developing practical guidelines for planning to use and manage bag silos.

Publications

  • Muck, R. E., and Holmes, B. J. 2002. Factors influencing density and losses in pressed bag silos. In: The XIIIth International Silage Conference, Auchincruive, Scotland. p 156-157.


Progress 01/01/01 to 12/31/01

Outputs
This project is studying the density and losses in pressed bag silos. The filling and emptying of bags were monitored at three experiment station farms (Arlington, Prairie du Sac, West Madison), starting in the 2000 harvest season (25 bags) and continuing in 2001 (22 bags). The weights of all loads added to bags were recorded. Samples were taken of each load for moisture, ash, and quality analyses. The length of bag filled by each load was marked on the bag to get within bag variation in density by load. The major crops ensiled were alfalfa and whole-plant corn. The weights of both good and spoiled silage removed from bags were recorded, and periodic samples were being taken for moisture, ash and quality analyses. In 2000, dry matter (DM) densities in alfalfa averaged 12.5 lb/ft3 when ensiled at 40% DM. DM density decreased in wetter alfalfa at a rate of 0.2 lb/ft3 per percentage unit of DM content. In corn silage, DM densities were 3 to 8% lower than alfalfa with one bagger and 16 to 35% higher with another bagger. DM density decreased in wetter corn silage at a rate of 0.3 lb/ft3 per percentage unit of DM content. Losses have been measured on 15 bags so far. Average total losses were 14.2% of which 5.8% was moldy silage that was not fed. These averages were affected by 3 bags with losses over 25%, one due to bird damage. The other 12 bags averaged 9.7% loss of which 1.9% was moldy. The majority of bags had no moldy silage. Losses were higher in dry silages and in silages fed out at low rates. While losses can be similar to losses in tower silos, good bag management is needed to consistently get low losses. Monitoring will continue until all of the 2000 and 2001 bags are emptied.

Impacts
Pressed bag silos are becoming increasingly popular on livestock farms because they are relatively an inexpensive means of making silage and provide farms with more flexibility in silage management than traditional tower or bunker silos. However, little is known about density and losses in bag silos. This study intends to obtain estimates of both under good management and possibly the factors influencing variability in density and losses across bags.

Publications

  • Muck, R.E. and Holmes, B.J. 2001. Density and losses in pressed bag silos. ASAE Paper No. 01-1091. ASAE, St. Joseph, MI.


Progress 01/01/00 to 12/31/00

Outputs
A project was initiated to study the density and losses in pressed bag silos. In the 2000 harvest season, the filling of 25 bags was monitored at three experiment station farms (Arlington, Prairie du Sac, West Madison). The weights of all loads added to bags were recorded. Samples were taken of each load for moisture, ash, and quality analyses. The length of bag filled by each load was marked on the bag to get within bag variation in density by load. The major crops ensiled were alfalfa and whole-plant corn. The weights of both good and spoiled silage being removed from bags are being recorded, and periodic samples are being taken for moisture, ash and quality analyses. The range of moisture contents at ensiling were 41 to 70% wet basis with alfalfa silage averaging 53% and corn silage averaging 62%. Dry matter densities ranged from 10.3 to 17.7 lbs/ft3. Alfalfa averaged 13.8 lbs DM/ft3 whereas corn silage averaged 12.3 lbs DM/ft3. At this time, the data has not been thoroughly analyzed regarding the factors influencing density.

Impacts
Pressed bag silos are becoming increasingly popular on livestock farms because they are relatively an inexpensive means of making silage and provide farms with more flexibility in silage management than traditional tower or bunker silos. However, little is known about density and losses in bag silos. This study intends to obtain estimates of both under good management and possibly the factors influencing variability in density and losses across bags.

Publications

  • No publications reported this period